Myles H. Tanenbaum, 82, of Gladwyne, a tax lawyer, developer of major shopping centers, philanthropist, and owner of a championship football team, died Friday, Aug. 31, of complications from Alzheimer's disease at the Quadrangle in Haverford.
In 1970, Mr. Tanenbaum left the law firm of Wolf, Block, Schorr & Solis Cohen and became a partner in Kravco, a new real estate development enterprise.
He was Kravco's vice president and chairman of the executive committee for 13 years and then served on the board until 1988.
By then, Kravco was the country's ninth-largest shopping center company. It had completed 36 malls, including Hamilton Mall in New Jersey, the Court and the Plaza at King of Prussia, Montgomery Mall in Montgomeryville, and Oxford Valley Mall in Langhorne.
From 1985 to 1990, Mr. Tanenbaum was president of EQK Realty Investors. The firm pioneered the packaging of prime commercial property for sale to institutional investors, including insurance companies, pension funds, and mutual funds.
'A true gentleman'
Mr. Tanenbaum was later chairman of Arbor Property Trust, served on the boards of University Health Realty Trust and Pep Boys, and was vice chairman of A Wish Come True, a manufacturer of specialty apparel.
Bruce Toll had business dealings with Mr. Tanenbaum when Toll sold Million Dollar Pier in Atlantic City to Kravco for development as a mall. "Myles was a true gentleman. He carried through on everything he said he would do. He was an honorable man," said Toll, founder and vice chairman of Toll Bros., a residential real estate developer.
In 1983, Mr. Tanenbaum, a former bench warmer on Central High School's football team, became principal owner of the Philadelphia Stars, a team in the new United States Football League.
"I've gotten completely carried away. I didn't know I could feel such excitement, such exhilaration," he told the Philadelphia Daily News when he became an owner.
Mr. Tanenbaum gave Central's colors - maroon and gold - to the Stars, who won the USFL title in 1984. The next year, he moved the team from Philadelphia to Baltimore. The Stars defeated the Oakland Invaders that year to win their second championship in what turned out to be the USFL's final game.
"He believed if you had a goal and worked hard, you could reach for a star and grab it, and in one case, he literally did that - the football team, the Philadelphia Stars," his daughter Sharon said.
"He was a builder of dreams," she said, "from shopping malls to synagogues, and from Tanenbaum Hall at the University of Pennsylvania, named in honor of his daughter Nicole, to the Jeanne and Bennett Tanenbaum Music Conservatory in Netivot, Israel, named in honor of his parents."
In the late 1950s, Mr. Tanenbaum and a small circle of friends put up their homes as collateral for a mortgage to build Congregation Melrose B'nai Israel in Melrose Park. They purchased the land in Cheltenham Township and applied for a zoning permit for the synagogue at a time when there was discrimination against Jews moving into the area.
Lori Goldfarb, copresident of what is now Congregation Melrose B'nai Israel Emanu-El, said, "If not for Myles and his sharp legal acumen arguing the case to the zoning board and Board of Commissioners, Congregation Melrose B'nai Israel never would have been built."
Mr. Tanenbaum would later be a benefactor to several institutions. He was past chairman of the board of the American Diabetes Association and cochaired the fund-raising campaign committee for the National Museum of American Jewish History.
He served on the boards of the University of Pennsylvania and its hospital, helped found the Zell/Lurie Real Estate Center at the Wharton School at Penn, and served on several committees at Penn.
In a tribute, David L. Cohen, chairman of Penn's Board of Trustees, and Penn president Amy Gutmann wrote: "As chairman of the Facilities and Campus Planning Committee, Myles helped lay the foundation for the eastward expansion that has so transformed the campus."
Mr. Tanenbaum grew up in Queens, N.Y., and Mount Airy.
He worked his way through the Wharton School selling fruit and life insurance and doing tax returns. He graduated in 1952.
After serving in the Air Force for two years, he earned a degree from Penn's law school, where he was editor of the law review.
In addition to his daughter, Mr. Tanenbaum is survived by sons Steven and Lawrence; seven grandchildren; and former wives Roberta Tanenbaum and Ann Tanenbaum. A daughter, Nicole, and former wife Ruthe Freedman preceded him in death.
A funeral was Tuesday, Sept. 4, at Har Zion Temple, 1500 Hagys Ford Road, Penn Valley. Burial was in Haym Salomon Memorial Park.
Donations may be made to the Alzheimer's Association Delaware Valley, 399 Market St., Suite 102, Philadelphia 19106.